WVONGA Makes Plans to Push Forced Pooling Lite in 2018

The West Virginia Oil & Natural Gas Association (WVONGA) plans to push, once again, for what MDN calls forced pooling lite in the next session of the legislature scheduled for early 2018. Forced pooling legislation in West Virginia has been put forward five times in the past seven years–and each time it has failed to win enough votes in the WV legislature. This year, WVONGA changed tactics and renamed forced pooling as co-tenancy and joint development (see WV Won’t Push Forced Pooling, Will Push Joint Dev. & Co-Tenancy). Co-tenancy says a majority of rights owners can vote to accept a lease for drilling. It corrects a situation in which multiple rights owners are listed for a property–and sometimes (often?) it’s difficult to track them all down and get them to sign on the dotted line. Joint development is a bit more nuanced. Currently there are a number of existing old leases, signed before shale drilling began, that prevents drillers from drilling a horizontal well across an individual property boundary line, until a new lease is signed. Joint development says if the driller already owns the leases on all adjoining properties they want to combine into a drilling unit, they can do so without signing a new lease. WVONGA says it corrects a loophole that prevents more drilling from happening. Rights owners say joint development legislation lets drillers have a freebie–instead of signing a new lease (for more money), the driller gets something never envisioned when the original lease was signed. WVONGA came close this year to getting co-tenancy and joint development passed–Senate Bill 576 (see WVONGA Delivers ~1,000 at Rally to Support Co-Tenancy, Joint Dev.). However, like other forced pooling bills before it, SB 576 didn’t get passed. So WVONGA has signaled it will push once again next year, this time renaming (euphemizing) forced pooling lite as “mineral efficiency”…

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